England Test captain Joe Root is delighted with how his young Test side have overcome the challenges thrown at them on the tour of South Africa to go into the final Test with a good chance of winning the series 3-1.
England came back from a defeat in the opening Test to win the next two with strong all-round performances. They began the tour with illness laying many of their squad low, and then lost James Anderson, their most experienced pacer, to injury, as well as batsman Rory Burns and spinner Jack Leach to illness. Yet, those stepping in stood up to be counted, with the performances of the fresh-faced Ollie Pope and Dom Bess especially exciting for the future.
They have already ensured they will retain the Basil D'Oliveira trophy, but Root now wants to finish on a high with a win in the final Test at the Wanderers starting on Friday, 24 January, and return with a 3-1 scoreline. For this group of players, "the sky is the limit", he said.
"It's been a tour that has thrown everything at us," he told reporters on the eve of the match. "But the whole squad, the players and the coaching staff, have worked tirelessly to make sure we stayed calm and as in control as we could. When we've had our opportunities to bounce back, we've really taken them.
"It's been really pleasing in many ways. We're a very young side at the start of something and we've seen some very promising performances. To win three Tests in a row would be a very big achievement for this group.
"A series win here probably would be my proudest achievement as captain, because of the different things we've had to manage throughout this tour. We've had injuries and senior players having to fly home and a lot of illness to deal with and we have adapted to very different conditions.
We're very much at the start of something here and we're not perfect by any means.
"For a young group of players that has been very pleasing and a sign we're doing the right things. If we can harness that and keep looking to improve then I do think the sky's the limit for this team."
The series has done well for England's position on the ICC World Test Championship table. In the longer term, the skipper is setting his sights higher, at the No.1 ranking.
"We're very much at the start of something here and we're not perfect by any means," he said. "We have to keep that attitude and keep driving that forward for a long period of time if we want to get to No. 1 in the world."